- Things are quiet tonight. Too quiet! It gives me the feeling of the lull-- before a storm!
- -- Wong
Appearing in "Xenogenesis Day of the Demons Part 1: Agents of Fortune"
- Jack Norriss
- Dollar Bill
- Marilyn. A waitress of the Felix Club. She claims to be from Towner, North Dakota.
- Marc. Male archaeologist.
- Sharon. Female archaeologist.
- Vishanti (Mentioned)
- Hoggoth (Mentioned)
- Cyttorak (Invoked)
- Nick Fury (Mentioned)
- S.H.I.E.L.D. (Mentioned)
- Wonder Man (Mentioned)
- Hela (Mentioned)
- Theo Kojak (Mentioned)
- Frigga (Mentioned)
- Ms. Marvel (Mentioned)
- Daredevil (Mentioned)
- Spider-Man (Mentioned)
- Ancient One (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- New York City
- A temple of the Agents of Fortune.
- North Dakota (Mentioned)
- Empire State University (Mentioned)
- Captain America's Shield
- Captain America's Uniform
- Crimson Bands of Cyttorak
- Eye of Agamotto
- Iron Man Armor Model 4
- Orb of Agamotto
- Shadow Cloak
- Vietnam War (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Xenogenesis Day of the Demons Part 1: Agents of Fortune"
The story opens at the Sanctum Sanctorum. Dr. Strange is asleep, with an open book in his lap. According to the narration, this sleep is the result of physical fatigue and mental exhaustion. Wong is still awake and feels worried. He realizes that it is a quiet night, but fears that this is only the lull before a storm.
Wong takes the book from Strange, closes it, and places it back in the library. He is facing his own sense of foreboding, but decides against waking Strange. He has no concrete reason to share his fears with his employer. While Strange seems to be sleeping peacefully, he is actually having dark and disjointed dreams. Outside the Sanctum, the Agent of Fortune appears and observes the exterior of the building.
Strange suddenly awakes and grabs a startled Wong from behind. He claims to have felt spatial displacement vibrations. He wants Wong to take cover, as he is expecting an attack. He uses the Eye of Agamotto to try to learn about the nature of the coming threat. Strange receives a kick to the head by the Agent of Fortune, who has already entered the Sanctum and is swinging from the ceiling. The Agent covers Strange's head with his Shadow Cloak and temporarily blinds him. Strange releases himself and counterattacks with a spell.
The chosen spell summons the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, but the Agent claims that they are ineffective against them. He uses his Shadow Cloak to escape their grasp and disappear. Strange wonders whether he has already won this battle. The Agent reappears and attacks him. He claims that he travels through dimensional doorways, and that he is adept at lightning attacks. With Strange knocked out, the Agent steals the Eye of Agamotto. He claims that he is working for a cult, and that he was send to harvest the most precious eye of all. The scene ends.
The scene shifts to the exterior of the Avengers Mansion. Jackson Norriss has just parked his car, a Jaguar, and is approaching the Mansion. Jackson has been offered a job by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D., but he has no way of actually contacting Fury. He wants the Avengers to find Fury for him. He finds one of the exterior doors of the Mansion to be unlocked. He prepares to enter, and decides to warn the Avengers about their lack of security. The scene ends.
The scene shifts to the hospital room of Ledge, who has yet to recover from his injuries and even has trouble speaking. His friend Valkyrie is there to see him, using her mortal guise. She assures him that he will soon be back on his feet. Val is accompanied by Dr. Bruce Banner, who is formally dressed in a suit and tie.
Dollar Bill arrives and enters the room. He has never met Banner before, so Val introduces them to each other. Dollar Bill listens to the name "Robert Bruce Banner" and decides to start calling him "Bob". Dollar Bill invites both Val and "Bob" to a visit to the Felix Club, a nightclub. He promises to cover all expenses. Val is reluctant to accept, but Banner is overjoyed. Dr. Banner claims to have not enjoyed a night out for quite some time. He is looking forward to it. Ledge tries to warn Dollar Bill that Val is a super-woman, with a sword and a cape. Dollar Bill does not understand the warning. He jokes that the bandaged Ledge should appear in a remake of the horror film "The Mummy", and then exits the hospital room.
The scene shifts to the Felix Club, where Dollar Bill is trying to impress Val and Banner with his generosity. Vera Gemini in human form is already there, and having a conversation with Eric Payne (the civilian identity of Devil-Slayer). Vera warns Payne that he is only one man and can not last long against her entire organization. Payne points out that she is not as confident as she sounds, or else she would not be meeting with him for negotiations. Val stares at Payne, who she sees in a somewhat different form. In her vision, Payne is cloaked in a strange cape and he emanates a distinct aura. She seeks confirmation of her vision from Banner, who sees nothing extraordinary about the man. In Banner's view, Val is always on edge and expecting to be involved in unusual events.
As Vera and Payne continue to converse, she accuses him of betraying her organization. They were the ones who trained him, and equipped him. Then he turned on them. Payne replies that he once believed in her organization and trusted them. And this turned out to be a mistake. They simply used him, and he does not like being used. He rejects her offer of truce as another shallow attempt to exploit him. He vows to use his abilities to destroy her entire organization. Vera is not impressed with his "verbal posturing". He has proven to be a persistent and powerful foe, but he does not actually gain anything from his campaign against them. If he changes sises again, her organization is able to offer him power and wealth.
In a nearby table, Valkyrie talks about her concern about the "pale and weak" Ledge. Dollar Bill asks her to forget her concerns for a while, and to enjoy a night of rest and relaxation. Banner agrees, as he feels that both Defenders need to rest away from battles. Banner also points out that Ledge is young and able to quickly heal from his injuries.
When Vera tells Payne that her organization has taken possession of the Eye of Agamotto, he grabs her hand violently and transforms into Devil-Slayer. He has clearly lost control of himself and can not maintain the illusion of normalcy. He accidentally scares a waitress, who runs away from him. Valkyrie mistakes Devil-Slayer for a super-villain and prepares to attack him. He in turn mistakes Valkyrie for an agent of Vera, and accuses Vera of leading him to a trap. As the battle is about to begin, Vera escapes his grasp.
Devil-Slayer uses his powers to levitate Vera on the air, telling her that she can observe the battle from the ceiling. The sight of the floating woman scares civilians, while Valkyrie calls Vera "sister" and tells her to take heart. Valkyrie is in uniform already and is holding her sword. This is the first time she transforms in front of Dollar Bill, who is rather surprised. Dollar Bill asks Banner what happened to Val. Devil-Slayer pulls a bladed weapon from his cloak and attacks Val.
Devil-Slayer briefly gains the upper hand in the battle. He assumes Val to be a female Agent of Fortune. A well-placed kick by Valkyrie makes Payne loose his balance, and she criticizes his arrogance. Devil-Slayer charges in attack once again, but Valkyrie matches his attacks blow-for-blow. Vera believes that her unwitting champion is loosing the fight, and prepares to escape. A sword-blow by Valkyrie destroys Devil-Slayer's weapon. Devil-Slayer uses his cloak to temporarily blind Valkyrie, who is disoriented. Vera uses her own powers of telekinesis to move a chair, using the chair to hit Devil-Slayer from behind.
Meanwhile, a waitress called Marilyn tries to help Banner, who seems to be sick. She suggests calling a doctor for him. Banner is not actually sick, he was actually struggling to prevent his transformation into the Hulk. He fails and starts transforming in front of Marilyn. Marilyn decides to head home, as she was not prepared to deal with these kind of situations.
Elsewhere in the Club, Vera prepares to magically escape. She tells Payne to enjoy the remainder of his life, and thanks Valkyrie for diverting Devil-Slayer's attention. Valkyrie sees Vera using magic, and suspects she was wrong to help her. Devil-Slayer believes that Val has lost her nerve, but he is unable to do anything about it. He is attacked by an enraged Hulk, who is not happy that Payne tried to hurt one of his friends.
Hulk lifts Devil-Slayer above his head and prepares to throw him away. Payne mistakes Hulk for a demon, but Hulk does not like this accusation. Valkyrie tries to prevent Hulk from hurting Devil-Slayer. Dollar Bill realizes that Dr. Banner is the Hulk, and also realizes that this is why the name sounded familiar to him. Hulk throws Devil-Slayer through a wall.
Valkyrie wants to question Devil-Slayer about what actually happened here. The Hulk tries to wake up a seemingly unconscious Payne, who was actually playing possum. Payne absorbs the Hulk in his Shadow Cloak, while still convinced that the Hulk is a demon. An army of police officers suddenly arrives and tries to intervene. Devil-Slayer decides to escape, but still wants to continue the battle with Valkyrie. So he teleports away with her. The police are left pointing their guns at an unarmed Dollar Bill. Devil-Slayer appears in a pocket universe, while trying to find a way to eliminate the Valkyrie.
The scene shifts to the Avengers Mansion, where Jackson Norriss has been caught in a trap. The Avengers (Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, and Scarlet Witch) respond to an alarm and discover Jackson. He asks them about Nick Fury.
The scene shifts to the jungles of Mexico. Two archaeologists, called Marc and Sharon, argue about why they were sent on this mission. They discover what seems to be a giant temple, and seem to be excited about their achievement. But then they are surrounded by a strange glow, which seems to burn them. They scream and them disappear, probably deceased. A solitary figure in the temple is the only witness to what happened to them.
The solitary figure is one of the mysterious cultists, and his thoughts are about dominance and submission. The cultist meets the Agent of Fortune, who has just returned from his mission. The Agent regrets not killing Dr. Strange, but the cultist reminds him that killing was not part of his orders. He informs the Agent that his next mission is to slay Eric Simon Payne (the Devil-Slayer). The two of them observe other cultists, who are chanting before a hellish fire. The cultists are apparently trying to communicate with demons.
The cultists are about to sacrifice two unseen humans in the altar, possibly the archaeologists. The human sacrifice is supposed to accomplish a mystical goal. Dr. Strange observes the ceremony through the Orb of Agamotto, but does not intervene. He realizes that the initial purpose of the cultists is the return of demons previously exiled by the Ancient One. The end result will be Xenogenesis, the return of the Demon race. The story ends.
- Dollar Bill makes a reference to the horror film "The Mummy" (1932). It is a celebrated film, featuring a reanimated Egyptian mummy. In the film, an ancient Egyptian priest called Imhotep is mummified while still alive, as punishment for sacrilege. The living mummy of Imhotep is revived in modern times. He tries to find a way to resurrect his long-dead lover, princess Ankh-es-en-amon, and locates a woman who may be her reincarnation. While the film was a standalone story, it has inspired several remakes with sequels of their own and various reinterpretations of the original tale. It is considered the foundation of an entire sub-genre of films focusing on living or re-animated mummies.
- When seeing Eric Payne in his civilian clothes and identity, Valkyrie is able to see his other identity as Devil-Slayer. She also apparently sees his uniform, his own version of the Shadow Cloak, and even his aura. It is unclear how the Asgardian can know so much about the stranger.
- As of this issue, Dollar Bill knows that his friend Val is Valkyrie. He starts being loosely affiliated with the Defenders and getting involved in their missions. He eventually publicizes their existence to the world, in a misguided attempt to improve the team's profile.
- As of this issue, Dollar Bill knows that his new friend Dr. Robert Bruce "Bob" Banner and the Hulk are two versions of the same person.
- Devil-Slayer briefly mentions that he is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He claims that his war service taught him how to bust an ambush. In fact, he is confident that he can bust any ambush.
- When calling for police help, the owner of the Felix Club mentions police detective Theo Kojak. Kojak is a fictional character, the eponymous protagonist of the television series "Kojak" (1973-1978). In the series, Kojak is a lieutenant of the New York City Police Department. He was depicted as Greek American, incorruptible, and having a dark and cynical outlook in life. A major storyline of the series had Kojak trying to quit smoking, but unable to get rid of his oral fixation. So instead of smoking, he started using lollipops as a substitute. Sucking lollipops became the signature look of the character.
- Two members of the Defenders are neither seen or mentioned in this issue: Hellcat and Nighthawk.
- The Marvel Chronology Project, which covers character appearances, has the following information on the issue's characters:
- Beast previously appeared in Ms. Marvel Vol 1 16 (April, 1978). He next appears in Doctor Strange Vol 2 29 (June, 1978).
- Captain America previously appeared in Avengers Vol 1 168 (February, 1978). He next appears in Avengers Vol 1 170 (April, 1978).
- Devil-Slayer previously appeared in Marvel Spotlight Vol 1 33 (April, 1977).
- Dollar Bill previously appeared in Defenders Vol 1 54 (December, 1977).
- The Hulk previously appeared in Incredible Hulk Vol 1 222 (April, 1978).
- Iron Man previously appeared in Iron Man Vol 1 112 (July, 1978). He next appears in Doctor Strange Vol 2 29 (June, 1978).
- Jack Norriss previously appeared in a flashback in Defenders Vol 1 54 (December, 1977). He next appears in Defenders Vol 1 87 (September, 1980).
- Scarlet Witch previously appeared in Ms. Marvel Vol 1 16 (April, 1978). She next appears in Ms. Marvel Vol 1 18 (June, 1978).
- Wong previously appeared in Ghost Rider Vol 2 30 (June, 1978).
- The "Xenogenesis" story of Defenders #58-60 includes numerous tributes to the rock group Blue Oyster Cult. In this issue, there is a special dedication to BOC band member Eric Bloom in the credits listed on page 3. "Agents of Fortune" (the title for this issue's story as well as the name of Dr. Strange's adversary) is named after a 1979 album by the band. Vera Gemini, the name of the principle villain of the whole story, derives her name from a song, "the Revenge of Vera Gemini" from the same Lp.
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